Andrew Corbett, Chair of the Entrepreneurship Department at Babson College, an instructor at Babson Executive Education, and a mentor to young business leaders, in a recent article for Connecticut Post outlined a five-step plan for entrepreneurial thinking.
According to Professor Corbett, “The ability to think and lead like an entrepreneur has long been a unique differentiator for leaders of forward-looking firms. But it is no longer optional, not for companies looking to weather the storms of 2020 and the uncertainty that will come in its wake.” He points out that companies including Detrapel, a maker of water- and stain-repellent spray, which began making hand sanitizer and cleaning products, and Dyson, the vacuum company that invented a new type of ventilator, have entrepreneurial leaders that responded rapidly and pivoted in response to a new need.
Professor Corbett identifies a five-step plan for entrepreneurial thinking:
* Actively pursue rapid, small-scale experiments in how to revise your operations to suit the new landscape – Make your experiments vehicles for learning by being clear on what you hope to discover from each test. Determine how you can capture information about what is working and what is not.
* Release your attachment to the way things used to be and open yourself to pursuing new products, customer, and business models – You can draw on your firm’s existing capabilities and pivot to adapt to new needs.
* Be flexible while keeping the long view in mind – Follow the example of Hilton Hotels CEO Chris Nassetta who, while hotels were shut down, linked hotel employees to temporary jobs at retailers including Albertsons, Amazon, and CVS through the Hilton Workforce Resource Center. This kept employees afloat and strengthened their affinity for Hilton.
* Recognize other entrepreneurial thinkers in your organization and make them your allies – To make a rapid pivot, you must have buy-in from the team. Having innovative, entrepreneurial leaders on board with the new direction can help bring more-cautious colleagues along.
* Remember that inaction is a choice – In times of crisis, people tend to stick with what works, keep their heads down, and avoid risks. But that is not effective in a shifting landscape. Companies must evolve or risk obsolescence.
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